June 2012 Archives
There's been a very clever e-card floating around the internet lately that states, "'I want to see Magic Mike for the compelling storyline,' said no woman, ever." Still, the hordes of women who have already finished the Fifty Shades of Grey books and are now looking for their next thrill will be pleased to know that aside from the copious amounts of eye candy, there is also a halfway decent plot and some solid dialogue thrown in the mix. That's nice because it makes it feel less like soft-core porn that way. Not a pizza delivery man in sight.
Apparently not content with overseeing 75 percent of Fox's Animation Domination Sunday nights, Seth MacFarlane has decided to take his talents to the multiplex as well. Today brings the release of the Family Guy creator's live-action filmmaking debut Ted, about a young boy's magical wish that results in his loveable stuffed teddy bear coming to life. But before you accuse MacFarlane of getting soft in his old age, be aware that the film's family-friendly aura lasts only as long as its pre-credits prologue. Because, as with so many things, once Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) and his boy John (Mark Wahlberg) grow up, they ain't so cute anymore... and neither is the movie.
People Like Us has the perfect formula for a terrible movie: Emotionally manipulative plot (a man has to deliver $150,000 of his dead father's money to his sister who he's never met), actors who have recently starred in extremely bad films (that's Chris Pine, Michelle Pfeiffer and Elizabeth Banks), a child actor with a hefty role (Michael Hall D'Addario) and a first-time feature film director (Alex Kutzman, who's better known as a writer and producer for TV shows like Fringe, Hawaii Five-0 and Alias, as well as films like Transformers and Star Trek). The movie even begins with a particularly painful wheeling-and-dealing scene between Pine's character Sam and special guest Jon Favreau, playing a character simply known as "Richards." I won't blame you if you leave the theater after the first ten minutes of the movie and demand a refund, but if you choose to stick around through 'til the end, you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.
Comic book fans may still be skeptical about the need for a reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise only ten years after its launch, but the cast and crew of The Amazing Spider-Man made a case for their movie's existence when they swung through New York on a recent promotional tour. Here are some excerpts from their meet-the-press conferences:
By far the most buzzed-about movie at this year's Sundance Film Festival (and one of the first to get snapped up for distribution), Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild is an altogether striking debut feature. Filmed on location in the bayous of Southern Louisiana, the film offers a "through a child's eyes" portrait of an impoverished rural community that's tinged with fantasy yet still firmly rooted in a compelling reality.
"Aw, c'mon Channing -- a big-screen version of Cop Rock sounds like a great idea!"
What do you do when you've just directed the film that became the biggest hit of your career and scored you another Oscar? Well, if you're Woody Allen, you take your act on the road once more, trading the rain-soaked streets of Paris after midnight for sun-dappled Rome. The iconic writer/director's forty-second film (stop and take that in for a moment... that's 42 films in almost as many years; respect man, respect) is To Rome, With Love, a quartet of fancifully comic -- and, as the title suggests, romantic -- stories set against the backdrop of Italy's historic, absurdly picturesque capital city.
Like an unholy cross between Melancholia and Little Miss Sunshine, Lorene Scafaria's debut feature is a quirky road comedy set against the backdrop of the looming apocalypse. This particular end-of-the-world scenario involves an enormous asteroid that will reduce Earth to a cinder when it smashes into the planet in 21 days. But it's a sign of just how deeply annoying the movie is that you long for this planet-destroying space rock to arrive in half the time so that everyone onscreen will die sooner.
When the movie you're going to see is called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, you don't exactly head into the theater expecting great art. But you do hope for a rollicking genre mash-up that delivers on the goofy fun promised by the title. I'm sorry to say that, in this case, the finished product is plenty goofy, but not a lot of fun.
Although Mickey Mouse remains the company's figurehead, Walt Disney is, in many ways, the studio that fairy tales built. From 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to 2010's Tangled, Disney's legacy has largely been defined by its adaptations of these classic folk tales, which for generations of kids, have become the definitive versions of the exploits of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the Little Mermaid. The studio's in-house animation company Pixar, on the other hand, has largely prided itself on creating original stories usually in contemporary settings; look through their feature filmography and you won't find a single adaptation in the bunch. So the company's latest offering Brave is an interesting hybrid of Pixar and Disney's respective specialties. The makers behind this film are attempting nothing less than inventing an entirely new fairy tale, one that employs some of the genre's familiar tropes and characters in service of a wholly original narrative. They don't completely succeed, but it's exciting to watch them try.